Today is Earth Day, an occasion for marking our responsibility to care for our world and the environment. It seems trite to have just one day to remind ourselves of the importance of this -- though the same could be (and often is) said about Father's Day, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Christmas, etc. We should always be aware of how we ought to be good stewards of the world and the resources God has entrusted to us; not just one day a year.
Earlier this week, a gray whale that died after stranding on a Seattle beach was discovered to have "a surprising amount of human debris" in its stomach, including more than 20 plastic bags, small towels, surgical gloves, plastic pieces, duct tape, a pair of sweat pants, and a golf ball.
But our environmental profligacy doesn't just affect animals. It disproportionately impacts the poorest and most vulnerable -- those who are least responsible for 'contributing' harmful pollutants into our land, air, and oceans often end up bearing the brunt of their effects. Take Bangladesh, for example, one of the poorest countries in the world -- and widely recognized as being one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.
Just because we may not see the effects of climate change, doesn't mean it's not happening. And when those Jesus called "the least of these" are being adversely affected by our decisions -- on an individual level and a systemic level (and everywhere in between) -- we are likewise called to defend them -- on an individual and a systemic level (and everywhere in between). For, as the author of Proverbs reminds us: "Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker" (14:31).
This Earth Day, though, we have opportunities not only to remember our responsibility to care for creation -- check out Earth Day Network -- but also to celebrate the goodness of creation. This Sunday, April 25, there'll be a climate rally (featuring live music from Sting and John Legend, among others) on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for those who are able to get there!
"The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it." (Psalm 24:1)